OC Fair Gets some Heart

O.C. Fair gets some Heart

Dynamic between sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson hasn't changed after decades of performing together.

Nancy and Ann Wilson of Heart. They will perform Aug. 9 at the O.C. Fair.

Nancy and Ann Wilson of Heart. They will perform Aug. 9 at the O.C. Fair.(Photo by Norman Seeff / August 2, 2012)

Iconic rock band Heart will return to the Orange County Fair's Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa next week to celebrate the release of their box set, upcoming album and memoir.

The group will play an hour-and-a-half set encompassing more than four decades of music, according to lead singer Ann Wilson, known for her gritty, gut-wrenching vocals.

"It's going to be a nice cross-section from every era of Heart, but we have a new album coming out Oct. 2, so we'll be doing some new stuff from that, as well — and, some surprises that I'm not even ready to divulge," she said in a phone interview.

Heart burst onto the rock scene in the mid-1970s with hits such as "Crazy on You," "Magic Man," "Alone," "These Dreams," "Barracuda," "Straight On," "Even It up" and "What about Love," which found their way to radio, TV and on motion picture soundtracks.

Thirty-five million records later, Heart boasts 21 Top 40 hits, four Grammy nominations, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination, and lifetime achievement awards from the Grammy Foundation Northwest Chapter, ASCAP, and VH1 Rock Honors, according to http://www.heart-music.com.

And to top it off, Heart will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this fall followed by live concert webcast at a small, nearby club, Wilson said.

Heart made a comeback once again in 2010 when "Red Velvet Car" — the group's first new studio album in six years — entered the Billboard 200 best-selling album charts at No. 10.

"It felt amazing," Wilson said. "Nobody expected it. Nobody was more surprised than us, because it's been a long time since we've been top 10, probably since the '90s. It's an amazing feeling. I think we felt very studly there for a little while.

"Then again, we don't really base our self-worth on being in the charts anymore. We really have gotten past that. We really are more about playing live. So, being top 10 was like icing on the cake."

The group's follow-up album, "Fanatic," was recorded in hotel rooms and studios on the West Coast with Grammy-winning producer Ben Mink and will showcase the band's harder rock side.

The album features 10 new performances from Ann and Nancy Wilson including "Walkin' Good" — a duet with Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan — and the single "Fanatic," which will be released for radio Aug. 20.

Throughout the recording process, the sisters led the band, wrote the songs and played the instruments.

"The advantages of doing it all yourself is the buck stops with you and it's really your own thing," Ann Wilson said. "When there's a song that has the name Heart on it, you know who's done that song. You don't have to think there was one singer and 25 producers, you know."

The Wilson sisters will give fans a deeper look inside their life and struggles with their first memoir "Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll," set for release Sept. 18.

"It's really fun and interesting to read peoples stories," Ann Wilson said. "I like doing it. It helps people understand your music too when they find out who you are."

"Strange Euphoria," a career-spanning box set personally curated by Ann and Nancy Wilson, was released in June.

As the band continues to tour throughout the summer and fall, Ann Wilson insists that her dynamic with guitarist Nancy Wilson has "grown and deepened" since they first started playing music together as teenagers growing up in Seattle.

"We still love each other as much as ever, maybe more," Ann Wilson said. "We support each other on the road, as well as standing up on stage next to each other being creative partners. So, it's very good, a good dynamic.

"We never like to allow ourselves to fall into a pattern. We never want to go out there and just be going through the motions. We never want to just phone it in. That's really fake and it's not really worth anybody's time or effort or money. We just want to really keep it real."

Heart beats on and will continue to empower women in the evolving music industry.

"Some of the struggles that Nancy and I had early on are the same ones that women have now," Ann Wilson said. "That is, the struggle to get out from behind gender stereotypes.

"It's very easy for young women to just go out there and be sex objects and be objectified and have some level of temporary success, but that's a devil's bargain. That's going to put the cap on your career, really, unless you figure out how to do something more than that.

"That's really the thing that people watching don't understand about women in rock or music is that you can't rely strictly on your sexuality forever."

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If You Go

What: Heart

When: 8:15 p.m. Aug. 9

Where: Pacific Amphitheatre, OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa

Tickets: Start at $20, and include free fair admission

For more information on how to purchase tickets - click the tour section